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HEMET, CA-Two Metropolitan Water District committees have recommended that the MWD negotiate with a team led by the Irvine-based Shopoff Group and home builder Centex Corp. as potential developers of recreational properties next to the huge reservoir. The assignment would include campgrounds, a swim lagoon, day-use picnic areas, bicycle paths and trails on hundreds of acres.

The recommendations of the MWD’s recreation and real estate committees will go to the full water district board for consideration in November. If the board agrees, MWD’s Denis Wolcott tells GlobeSt.com, negotiations would go on for an estimated six months and the first development would begin within approximately 18 months.

The Shopoff-Centex group was one of six teams that the MWD asked to come up with proposals for two tracts of land south of Domenigoni Parkway and west of State Street near the 4,500-acre Diamond Lake reservoir, one of the newest and largest in the US. One tract is 860 acres that the district owns south of Domenigoni Parkway and west of State Street. The other is about 730 acres of residential-zoned land just north of the 860 acres.

The MWD would retain ownership of the 860-acre tract, where the recreational facilities will be developed, but the other tract will most likely be sold as surplus land. The MWD’s goal is to find a private investor that is capable of financing and constructing the recreational facilities and providing a plan to ensure that the facilities are financially self-sustaining, according to Randy Record, chairman of the recreation committee.

Besides naming the Shopoff-Centex team as the frontrunner, the MWD recreation and real estate committees named two other teams as possible alternates if negotiations with the Shopoff-Centex team fall through. The others are a Lewis Shea Parsons Ledo International team and a Lennar-Rancon group.

Build-out for the recreational facilities is estimated at seven to eight years. Metropolitan’s board has committed nearly $90 million in recreation-related improvements to the complex, including roads, infrastructure, basic grading, a marina and hiking/equestrian trails.

The complex also will be home to a museum for water education, archaeology and paleontology, as well as a regional sports recreation facility being developed by Valley Wide Parks and Recreation District.

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